I have this case.
Doesn't every good lawyer story start out like that? Note, I said story, not joke; jokes start like this: A lawyer walks into a bar, or There's a lawyer, an engineer, and a doctor... Anyways.
This case is ALL MINE. I am the lead "attorney" on it, with my supervising attorney watching me, to make sure I don't mess up and lose her license for her before I even get mine. It's a pretty sad case, with lots of kids involved. Although I am only representing one child in there, I have a feeling it won't be too long before all the other kids are taken away, too.
Sounds depressing, right? This is why I love my job. This is a volatile, tangible situation where I can walk in and make something, anything better.
I was thinking while I was cleaning today about a a conversation that I had with a priest back in my hometown. It couldn't have been that long ago, because I knew I was going to be working at this organization. He hadn't seen me around much, and asked why; I told him I had moved and gone to law school.
The look on his face was really hard to define. He just stared at me for a few beats, and then--the side of lip curled up, just a bit. That look is forever frozen in my brain. He said, Just what we need, another lawyer. Out loud. Where everyone could hear him. I stared back at him for what felt like forever. I know his story--he was a big shot corporate guy who entered the priesthood around the age of forty. I respect that, and I never thought that it would make him respect me less.
I don't remember what I said back. Maybe it was something along the lines of, Yeah you do need another lawyer like me, or maybe it was just a simple explanation of what I do. His face went blank, and there was another round of staring. Then I turned on my heel and left. He didn't call after me. He certainly didn't apologize or say, hey, that is good work. He never said a word to my mother, who is very involved in the church and in fact, trains his dog. He's never said anything to me since, anytime I see him.
I don't know what to think. Maybe there are some people who have the evil lawyer mentality so drilled into them they cannot give it up? Maybe the good lawyers do just can't outweigh the public opinion? There's a line that I've had quoted at me more often than not--First thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers. (Shakespeare, you know?) You know what that line really means? Shakespeare was acknowledging that the first thing any potential tyrant has to do in order to get rid of freedom is to kill the lawyers.
Yeah, we do need more lawyers. They need to do things that I'm doing, and more that I can't think of.
Go ahead, try to make a joke out of that.
Our Best Highest Selves
4 days ago